Honorable mention: College essay contest — Michael Fite
Secularism: Unity through diversification
By Michael Fite
Religion. It is the blind faith in scriptures of unknown origin, a reliance on the interpretation of the teachings of an undiscovered author. Its hallmark is the church’s elucidation of the Holy Scriptures, yet the wide variety of definitions of “correct belief” has only led to conflict. Multiple religions criticize others for holding “incorrect beliefs,” with these conflicts leading to the massacres of the First Crusades, bigotry toward Catholic Irish immigrants in the 19th century, and even debates in the 2020 election.
President Biden has asserted multiple times that he is a devout Catholic who is adamant about pro-choice laws regarding abortion. This has sparked a controversial debate within the walls of Catholic churches, as the Catholic Church mandates that those under Catholicism must be against pro-choice laws. This has led to the proposal to publish an assertion on “eucharistic coherence,” an explanation as to why those who receive communion should have similar beliefs to the Catholic Church.
This “eucharistic coherence” debate illustrates a fundamental flaw in religion: the manipulation of beliefs. If this document is published, the church is actively admitting to controlling the ideologies of Catholics by punishing those who go against Church beliefs through the denial of communion. This controlling of beliefs halts the advancement of progress by actively limiting free thinking. The Catholic Church is creating a singular-minded organism, a mass of individuals who fail in diversifying their beliefs.
And because each religion (including Catholicism) has a strict set of beliefs, each faith will produce its own doctrines. And due to the strict governing of beliefs, each religion would fail in harmonizing with other cultures, creating a divided church that will impose its beliefs on as many individuals as possible, including excommunicating those who dare to disagree with them.
However, secularism has one stark difference between it and religion, and that is faith. In secular societies, religious scriptures are omitted from humanity’s critical decisions, relying only on the laws of the natural world to guide them. Instead of interpreting one religious text in a multitude of fashions, a secular society can invest in the objectivity of the natural laws around them. The laws of the natural world need not be interpreted: only discovered. And this objectivity allows secular societies to be unified in their beliefs, as they simply rely on what they collectively witness with their own eyes: not what a body of people dictates to be correct. And this objectivity is why I, despite growing up in a religious household, deny all religious practices.
By rejecting religion, I can allow myself to discover the beautiful world around me without being lectured on what is correct. Secularism has let me base my existence on what the laws of the world present to me, instead of the dictation of beliefs through religious scriptures. Secularism has permitted me to pursue psychology, where I can view all individuals under a clear lens unobscured by biases and preconceived notions. I can be myself, appreciate who I am without the pressures of abiding by the church’s faith. I can be a part of my LGBTQ+ community, I can have multiple races, and I can have my own political views without the worry of them classing with religious beliefs.
Secularism permits me to accept others for who they want to become, escaping the confines of specific practices. It allows me and many others to diversify their opinions on the world, creating a mass of brilliant ideas while uniting everyone through the natural laws of the universe. While religion aims to subdue everyone into following one set belief, secularism promotes the diversification of ideas, following only the objective facts presented to humanity: both uniting everyone while still keeping the progress of humanity intact.
Michael, 19, attends the University of San Francisco, with plans to major in psychology. Michael was active in his home community, volunteering at “Walk to Believe” in New Jersey and participating in multiple school clubs to tutor children and create art.